Some of my "town friends" think I'm completely crazy for living out in the sticks like I do. But they would probably think that regardless. They do enjoy riding out for an afternoon for some country atmosphere, as long as our treacherous lane is not snow/ice covered. Then they say things such as, "How can you stand living like that? Doesn't it scare you driving that terrible road?" I have to reply, "Don't you get tired of listening to all that traffic and putting up with your neighbors?"
This past winter brought episodes of cabin fever like no other. With snow banks almost blocking my view out the window, I often dreamt of sunny beaches and flower gardens. Iowa winters are unforgiving, but they “build character,” I’ve been told. Yet, sunset moments when purple shadows stretch across the diamond-y snow bring me peace. And early mornings when deer silently stride across the yard make me happy. Even when the thermometer shows an incredible twenty below zero.
I grew up on a farm in the hills near Dubuque. The wooded acres I live in now were once part of that farm. We built a small just-for-two cabin that suits all of our needs; if I need more space, I go outside. Every sunset becomes one more treasure, and I consider myself lucky most days. As a kid, I felt jealous of my friends in town, who could just walk to the ice cream parlor or the park to hang out with other kids. I remember riding my old no-speed bicycle miles on gravel roads to visit a neighbor. In looking back, the things we did for fun (building forts, climbing trees, playing with kittens) were probably just as fun as hanging out at the park.
Sometimes, I can feel cut off from the world a bit. But we have technology now. I read on my Kindle, get caught up with my friends on Facebook, take care of business on the Internet, and Google trivia questions--things that could not have been imagined in the sixties. When I want to be alone to think, I sit on my deck with a glass of wine in my hand, a cat in my lap, and miles of country to see.
When my five-year-old granddaughter, who has always lived in big cities, visited, she looked around at the hills and trees and said, “Where are all the houses, Grandma?” To her, the huge expanse of countryside looked like an alien landscape.
Living in the woods is not for everyone; I enjoy travelling, visiting cities where there’s a lot going on and meeting new people. But coming home to my little place in the woods in Iowa has built me into the character I am.